The steep hike in the excise duty rates and the recent hikes on the MRP of beer in Maharashtra has raised several questions that need immediate consideration.
While beer is known to have one of the lowest alcohol content v/v, the price rise of this drink has led to over 10 percent drop in its sale. Consumers have been left with no option but to move to lower priced substitutes (hard liquor) containing a much higher v/v (volume/volume) of alcohol.
Sukhwinder Sandhu, Practicing Physician, thinks that a high tax rate on drinks with high liquor content should be imposed to prevent people from drinking. Luring or forcing them to shift to drinks with high content of alcohol is certainly going to affect their health.
“I think this in the long run will take a toll on the well-being of people. As it is, our country is suffering with drug epidemics and now, this will just add to the increase in the number of patients suffering from major physiological disorders.
Taxes should be levied keeping in mind the harm it does to a human body, not just to play with the demand and supply factors of the market.
As earlier reported, “The new taxes have made a quarter bottle of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) cheaper than a full bottle of beer of some of the commonest brands.”
“This clearly indicates that we have a large number of people who prefer beer over hard liquor and the government wants to increase their revenue by hiking their prices,” says Krishna Raj, Banker.
This is a very typical strategy of the authorities to make money and meet their daily requirements of cash. The milder the drink is, the higher the price.
While alcohol consumption in itself is bad, not every beer drinker would shift to hard liquor, yet, this decision should be reconsidered in my opinion,” he adds.
Putting forth her argument, Koyal Verma, an M.A student says, “I do not get the point in increasing the cost of just beer. There should be a blanket price increase in narcotics, alcohol, tobacco and other products that are taking so many lives everyday.
Like cigarettes, prices of such items should also be increase to let people quit these harmful substances. Although, it is hard to stop an addict, but such steps can at least induce him to think twice, before giving in to the addiction.
Pune records sales of around 22-23 lakh bulk litres (lbl) of country liquor, 25-26 lbl of IMFL, 34-35 lbl of beer and 1.25-1.3lbl of wine a month.
Excise figures show that sale of country liquor has dropped by 0.45 per cent and sale of beer has dipped by 10.78 percent. The duty on mild beer was increased to 25 per cent and for strong beer, it was raised to 35 per cent, sources said.
“If I am not wrong, the ideal practice followed by other countries is to keep the mild liquors cheap to encourage quitting of hard liquor, then why such epic decisions for our country?” inquires Madhav Waghmare, Environmentalist.
“Clearly, no one can read what goes on in the minds of our authorities when they come up with such decisions. They get their supplies at the cheapest rate or for free so I guess, public good is just not their concern!
Jagreti Prakash says that even the beer (brewing, beer bars/ shops) will be seriously affected given this drop in the demand for beer.
It is certain that consumers who cant afford to buy the safer evil beer, will shift to other cheaper high alcohol content drinks to satiate their craving.
Also, the fact that our Maharashtra is the only state where the cost is so high is really unfortunate.
#All views expressed in this article are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
##The consumption of alcohol, tobacco can seriously damage your health. Pune365 strongly discourage their use.
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